Justice Katju is explaining that what is a terrorist for some is a freedom fighter for others.

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Some people's terrorists are other people's freedom fighters

Justice Katju is explaining that what is a terrorist for some is a freedom fighter for others.
Justice Katju is explaining that what is a terrorist for some is a freedom fighter for others.
By Justice Markandey Katju

A four-day truce has come into effect in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Some people blame Hamas for starting the recent hostilities. But they need to be reminded of the words of the great Indian freedom fighter, Bal Gangadhar Tilak when India was under British rule.

In 1908, Indian revolutionaries launched a series of bomb attacks on British officials in Bengal, in which several Britishers were killed.

Soon thereafter Tilak, who was critical of the moderate approach to the fight for independence from British rule, wrote in his newspaper ‘Kesari’: “Violence, however deplorable, becomes inevitable when the rulers, who have converted the entire nation into a prison, begin to overawe the people in an endeavour to create despondency among them by terrible oppression and unduly frightening them. Then the sound of the bomb is spontaneously produced to impart to the authorities the knowledge that the people have reached the limit of their tolerance of oppression ''.

The origin of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute since 1948 has been explained by me in the video and articles :

Israel had conquered and occupied Gaza and the West Bank after the Six Day War in 1967, and thereafter converted them into virtual prison camps. The Palestians there, many of whom were refugees or their descendants after the 'Nakba' of 1948, were living in hellish conditions, without proper food, water, electricity etc, and often with severe restrictions on their freedom of movement.

In the West Bank, Jewish settlers were often driving Palestinians from their land, though the UN had declared that illegal.

The PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation, which had assumed power in the West Bank, no doubt protested against this, but only in words. Consequently, its leaders, such as Mahmoud Abbas, were perceived by most Palestinians as being covertly hand in glove with Israel and the Western powers.

On the other hand, Hamas, which assumed power in Gaza, resorted to armed struggle against the Israeli oppression, launching two 'intifadas'.

But this resulted in no basic change of the situation. Matters came to a head, however, on October 7th 2023 when Hamas launched an attack, and its soldiers entered southern Israel, killing many Israelis and taking many hostages.

No doubt the Hamas soldiers committed some atrocities ( though the exact amount is unknown, since in war truth is the first casualty ), but the Israeli response was totally disproportionate. Its air force destroyed many apartment buildings and hospitals, and together with its army killed about 15,000 civilians, two third being women and children

The Israeli authorities ordered residents of northern Gaza to move to the south, and the Israeli army entered Gaza, a tiny strip of coastal land 25 miles long and 7 mile wide, with only about 2.2 million people, thus starting a second Nakba.

Despite the onslaught of the well-armed Israeli armed forces, and despite suffering heavy casualties, Hamas has bravely continued fighting, thus making their soldiers heroes in the eyes of the Palestinians, as well as of many people in the world. The people of Gaza are overwhelmingly supporting Hamas, and most Palestinians in the West Bank, Jordan, etc have switched their loyalties from the PLO to Hamas.

Under the four-day truce Hamas has last night released 24 hostages, and Israel has released 39 Palestinians.

More are set to be released on both sides in the next 3 days. of the truce.

Whether the truce will hold beyond 4 days is uncertain. But one thing is clear. It is a significant victory for Hamas, as it bravely fought the powerful Israeli forces, armed by modern Western weapons (including aircraft), and has compelled it to declare a truce, however temporary. It has also bargained with Israel on equal terms for release of prisoners.

USA and the European Union have no doubt declared Hamas a terrorist organisation.

But in the eyes of the Palestinians, and many people throughout the world, they are freedom fighters and heroes.

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.)

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